Sunday, December 24, 2006

morpho and Morph

The morpho butterfly, all the way from Brazil, wishing you a happy 24th December.

And, although passionate nostalgia for children's TV of yore needs no encouragement from unhemmed, I couldn't resist this grainy still of Morph:

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sonnet 130

I just found this whilst looking for something else. Great delivery! And quite a back catalogue. Be sure to check out Aelfric!

sometimes cardboard leaves you speechless

mon cher cousin

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Tapioca Sisters

"THE DANCES (not necessarily in this order): Perfumed Sleeves (Elegy), Nanoha, Dark Hair, Love Among the Saucepans, The Battle of Yashima, Gift from Edo, The Curse, Snow, The Coy One, Bird of Miyako, Eight Scenes, Tea, Moon of Remembrance, The Maiden at the Well"

Junichiro Tanizaki, The Makioka Sisters (1943-1948), p. 280

Monday, December 11, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

horn'd sorites / an enthymematical progression

A tip of the hat to the OED, and we're off ... Best of good luck! It's something of a slalom. Or is that just me?

1. Logic. ‘A series of propositions, in which the predicate of each is the subject of the next, the conclusion being formed of the first subject and the last predicate’ (Mansel).
In the GOCLENIAN form, ‘the subject of each proposition is the predicate of the next, the conclusion being formed of the last subject and the first predicate’.
1551 T. WILSON Logike Hiij, We ioyne many causes, and many effectes together, wherof is made an argument, called Sorites. 1588 FRAUNCE Lawiers Log. II. ix. 99 As of many graynes is made a heape of corne, so of many degrees an argument called Sorites by this enthymematicall progression. 1654 Z. COKE Logick 148 Sorites is an imperfect Syllogism [etc.]. 1693 DRYDEN Persius VI. (1697) 296 note, Chrysippus the Stoick invented a kind of Argument, consisting of more than three Propositions; which is call'd Sorites, or a Heap. 1838 SIR W. HAMILTON Logic xix. (1866) I. 369 The Sorites can be resolved into as many simple syllogisms as there are middle terms between the subject and predicate of the conclusion. 1870 JEVONS Elem. Logic xviii. 156 The chain of syllogisms commonly called the Sorites.

b. An instance of this type of syllogism. Also as pl. (quot. 1798).
1581 J. BELL Haddon's Answ. Osor. 223b, The Logicians that have described the fourme of a Sorites. 1588 FRAUNCE Lawiers Log. II. ix. 99 A sorites [is] but enthymematicall progression by certain degrees. 1620 T. GRANGER Div. Logike 285 A Syllogisme many wayes cryptike, is a Dilemma, and a Sorites. 1643 SIR T. BROWNE Relig. Med. I. §18 An easie Logick may..with lesse than a Sorites resolve all things into God. 1725 WATTS Logic III. ii. §6 A Sorites is when several middle terms are chosen to connect one another successively [etc.]. 1798 EDGEWORTH Pract. Educ. (1811) II. 361 We have seen syllogisms, crocodiles, enthimemas, sorites, &c. explained and tried upon a boy of nine. 1860 H. ROGERS Ess. III. 277 An ingenious sorites, by which we may at any time dispense with the positive testimony of an historian. 1870 K. H. DIGBY Halcyon Hours 261 No horn'd soritès here would I employ, No captious argument that would annoy.

c. In allusive use.
1711 ADDISON Spect. No. 239 {page}10 These Disputants convince their Adversaries with a Sorites, commonly called a Pile of Faggots.

2. transf. A series, chain, or accumulation of some thing or things.
1664 POWER Exp. Philos. III. 191 Though Democritus his pit be never so deep, yet by a long Sorites of Observations, and chain of Deductions, we may at last fathom it. a1670 HACKET Abp. Williams I. xiii. (1693) 11 Such a long Sorites of Sciences and Tongues. 1875 M. COLLINS in F. Collins Lett. & Friendsh. (1877) II. 24 Note this significant fact or sorites of facts.

b. Math. (See quots.)
1880 J. J. SYLVESTER in Coll. Math. Papers (1909) III. 440 Any such determinate representation of a fractional quantity I shall term a sorites. Ibid., The elements of a sorites are analogous to the partial quotients of a regular continued fraction.

3. A sophistical argument turning on the definition of a ‘heap’.
1768-74 TUCKER Lt. Nat. (1834) II. 140 The like attack as was made of old by the Academics and Sceptics against the judgment of the senses, with their sophism of the sorites, or argument of the ‘heap’.

4. A heap, pile.
1871 M. COLLINS Marq. & Merch. III. ix. 230 Such sorites of flaming anthracite may possibly cause cephalalgia.

Hence soritic a., soritical.
1656 BLOUNT Glossogr., Soritical, pertaining to such an Argument [sc. Sorites]. a1693 Urquhart's Rabelais III. xxxviii. 320 Soritick fool. 1877 BLACKMORE Cripps II. v. 73 Nebules of logic, dialectic fogs, and..the pelting of soritic hail.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

the things critics say! no. 1

"It would need a Gaston Bachelard to do justice to the psycho-analysis of sea-weed, which is a really suggestive and strange thing to contemplate; children can unmisgivingly delight in sea-weed, but adults would be reluctant to admit the compound of sensations it can elicit."
Christopher Ricks, Keats and Embarrassment, 1974, p. 91.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ugandan Discussions

Reading Timothy Garton Ash in the paper today, I wondered if the Private Eye cover he mentions would be online. It is. And so are all the others. Knock me down with a feather!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

i do like ...

... record shops.


This is one of the nicest things Hazlitt says about Coleridge in The Spirit of the Age:

"Hardly a speculation has been left on record from the earliest time, but it is loosely folded up in Mr Coleridge’s memory ... Mr Coleridge ... has only to draw the sliders of his imagination, and a thousand subjects expand before him, startling him with their brilliancy, or losing themselves in endless obscurity."

Although it's not all that nice, because it ends up with STC either startled or plunged in obscurity. However, my empirically-minded question is this: what are we supposed to imagine when Hazlitt talks about drawing the 'sliders'? Is it something to do with stargazing? The OED very nearly answers this question, but not quite. This is what you get in the 'slider' entry under 4b:

1681 GREW Musæum IV. ii. 366 A Slider, with a thin Plate-Spring, which plays against the said Teeth. 1692 Capt. Smith's Seaman's Gram. II. xxiv. 130 A small Line must be drawn quite thro' the Slider. 1733 TULL Horse-Hoeing Husb. xxii. 339 (Dubl.), To fix in this Wreath from coming off, we make use of the Slider. 1763 Museum Rust. I. 78 The aperture in the floor of the third cell is shut by means of the slider. 1790 Phil. Trans. LXXXI. 27 The front of this vessel is a plate of glass, and the back a tin~plate slider. 1834-6 Encycl. Metrop. (1845) VIII. 751/1 In a groove under the dovetail is a slider L, moved by a wire K. 1839 URE Dict. Arts 983 Betwixt these guides, friction-roller sliders are placed, which sliders the corves are suspended. 1884 Law Times LXXVIII. 8/1 An upright rod, up and down which worked a slider which contained the cartridge.

fig. 1825 HAZLITT Spirit of Age 64 He has only to draw the sliders of his imagination, and a thousand subjects expand before him.

Ideas, anyone?

a cup of joe

From a site called answerbag. I really like the comments:

Josephus Daniels (1862-1948) was appointed Secretary of the U.S. Navy by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Among his numerous reforms of the Navy was the abolition of the officers' wine mess. From that time on, the strongest drink aboard navy ships was coffee and over the years, a cup of coffee became known as "a cup of Joe".


* jana2005: it is unuseful
* Bibliophile_kg: this is a common story about "cup of Joe", however 2 etymologists on the web disagree. see my entry.
* IAmDeath: Cool!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Sunday, November 19, 2006


I enjoyed hearing Jamie McKendrick read his poems last week & there was one I liked particularly called 'One-Star'. You can have a read of it here, should you be so inclined. You'll need to scroll down quite a long way to find it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bob and Ena 1

BOB: I like a party that's packed with people, so that there's a good frowst going on.

ENA: A frowst?

BOB: Yup. A good frowst.

ENA: I can't think ...

BOB: Yes?

ENA: ... of anything worse!

BOB: Come now! What kind of parties do you like?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

enantiomorph A form which is related to another as an object is related to its image in a mirror; a mirror image.

pneumatology The science, doctrine, or theory of spirits or spiritual beings.

Nertz! A. adj. ‘Nuts’, crazy. Now somewhat rare.

1928 J. P. MCEVOY Show Girl iii. 47 You'd be plumb nerts.

B. int. Expressing annoyance, exasperation, incredulity, etc.

1931 B. MEREDITH Speakeasy Girl iv. 52 ‘Nerts!’ muttered Roy in disgust. 1975 J. ASHBERY Self-portrait in Convex Mirror 42 Aw nerts, One of them might say, this guy's too much for me. (OED)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1848

Saturday, October 21, 2006

unhappy returns

Coleridge was born on 21st October 1772, making today his 234th anniversary. Unhemmed probably wouldn't be marking the occasion if I hadn't just read this. It's no exaggeration to say that he didn't like his birthday much, or at least that some of his birthdays got him down, reminding him of all the things he felt he hadn't achieved. He celebrated - if that's the right word - on the wrong day, under the mistaken impression that he came into the world on the 20th. This mistake, for some reason, really appeals to me.

On the evidence of his notebooks, his 32nd birthday looks to have been particularly rough:

'O my God! or if I dare not continue in that awful feeling! yet oh whatever is good in me, even tho' not in the Depth, tho' not in that which is the Universal & Perfect in us, yet oh! by all the ministering Imperfections of my Nature that were capable of subserving the Good - O why have I shunned & fled like a cowed Dog from the Thought that yesterday was my Birth Day, & that I was 32 - So help me Heaven! as I looked back, & till I looked back, I had imagined I was only 31 - so completely has a whole year passed, with scarcely the fruits of a month! O Sorrow & Shame! I am not worthy to live! - Two & thirty years - & this last year above all others! - I have done nothing! No I have not even layed up any materials, any inward store, of after action! - O no! still worse! still worse! body & mind, habit of bedrugging the feelings, & bodily movements, & habit of dreaming without distinct or rememberable ...'

According to Seamus Perry's commentary, the 'next four leaves have been cut out of the book'.

The following year was quite bad too:

'My Birth Day! - O Thought of Agony! O Thought of Despair! drive me not to utter Madness! -'

I thought that there were some more of these sad and extraordinary birthday entries, but I can't seem to find them. I was very pleased to discover (in the chronology included in this book) that on his 50th Coleridge took a dip in the sea at Ramsgate.


'Ernie Rogers, a twenty-three-year-old guitar player in San Bernardino, may represent the ultimate realization — and corruption — of YouTube's democratic ideal. Although on his user profile he bills himself as a “typical guy,” Rogers, who goes by the name lamo1234, has watched more than nine hundred thousand videos on YouTube since May. That averages out to approximately two hundred and fifty per hour, not allowing for sleep. What he watches, primarily, is his own guitar solos (or the first few seconds of them), over and over, to boost his view counts to levels that will make others take notice. His strategy seems to have been successful: one of his solos, a medley of Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses, and Beethoven licks, has been viewed two hundred thousand times—and only sixty thousand of those viewings were by him. Unfortunately, this strategy leaves little time for actually playing music. “Next year, the No. 1 spot on YouTube is going to be me, every day,” he told me. “I just need to make my band.”'

'It Should Happen To You', Ben McGrath in The New Yorker, 16th October

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lon Chaney, Sr.

Hi, Lon. Have we met?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 05, 2006

the North Wall of the Eiger

This face of the mountain - it's in the Swiss Alps - has apparently claimed the lives of many climbers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

unsavoury business

"Around 1495 Henry VII made an important reorganization of his private living space in which he separated off a Privy region for the unsavoury business of doing his accounts and going to the lavatory."

Colin Burrow reviewing Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII by Alistair Fox in Essays in Criticism 41 (1991).

Friday, September 29, 2006

Walt does birds

"the wildpigeon and highhold and orchard-oriole and coot and surf-duck and redshouldered-hawk and fish-hawk and white-ibis and indian-hen and cat-owl and water-pheasant and qua-bird and pied-sheldrake and blackbird and mockingbird and buzzard and condor and night-heron and eagle"

- from Walt Whitman's 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass (read the whole thing here

Recourse to the OED reveals that the "qua-bird" and the "night-heron" are one and the same, which is very slightly disappointing. The very pretty "orchard-oriole" in this photo is clearly taking the mickey out of the bird that stars in the Twin Peaks titles. Googling "highhold" yields a dense crop of what seem to be links to a role-playing game that features Highhold Castle as a location; buried amongst them is a link sending us to back to Whitman. The OED knows of no "highhold", but it seems pretty safe to assume that it's the same as a "highholder", which is an American woodpecker also called a flicker and that looks a bit like a pigeon. The "surf-duck" probably doesn't look like this. Its name is so funky that googling it doesn't get you very close to an actual duck. However, running "surf [space] duck" makes instantly plain that what we're dealing with is no less a waterbird than the mighty scoter. I was once in a rockband called Scoter with this man.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thoor Ballylee

Until today, I'd always imagined Yeats's tower as a round one. I suppose I pictured it as a taller, narrower version of Joyce's Martello tower.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Saturday, September 16, 2006


1 took me a long time to spot the bottom

2 unhemmed has gone hi-res - or higher-res - click on these snaps for an eyeful

3 having said that, this one's not so sharp when blown up - do you know what you're looking at?

4 in the New York City style

5 we wanted to buy half a punnet, but the woman at the market wouldn't let us - it had to be the whole darn lot

6 i've heard it said that the photo-essay is the future - but the future of what, exactly?

7 Pedigree Chum? yum yum yum

between two thorns

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


"Coleridge, to many people, and often I have heard the complaint, seemed to wander; and he seemed then to wander the most when in fact, his resistance to the wandering instinct was greatest - viz., when the compass and huge circuit by which his illustrations moved travelled farthest into remote regions before they began to revolve. Long before this coming round commenced most people had lost him, and naturally enough supposed he had lost himself. They continued to admire the separate beauty of his thoughts, but did not see their relations to the dominant theme."
The Collected Writings of Thomas De Quincey, ed. David Masson, vol. II, pp. 152-3.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

joggers and dogwalkers notwithstanding

5 things I saw on my constitutional around the duck ponds.

1 Virulent weeds with ugly stalks - overlong and alien - but beautifully vivid flowers atop them. Two distinct kinds: some unusual deep purple trumpetty flowers wound round railings up at the top of the scarp; some much more common ones down by the ponds, with open-faced lilacky flowers towering above the municipal shrubs.

2 A tracksuited middle-aged man on a bench with his head droopy, his back to the play park. I thought at first he was on his own, but as I passed I noticed next to him a woman with her head in his lap, motionless, tracksuited.

3 A dozen or so young lads in unmatching sports kit, listening to their football coach, or PE teacher. Further along, older kids doing an exercise I'd never seen before, that involves trotting towards someone whilst they trot towards you, jumping in synchronised manner and gently bomping your chests together mid-air, then trotting off to bomp someone else.

4 Sound asleep, a baby in a pram. On the adjacent bench a slightly decrepit-looking chap, possibly the grandfather, sound asleep.

5 An old man, orange of face, with a shock of milk-coloured hair, thick, like a paintbrush dipped in white paint, perched on a wall and drinking, with the help of a teaspoon, something grey and lumpy from a sawn-off squash bottle. A few yards away from him, his scrap-gatherer's trolley, empty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


'My head was alwaies working; never idle, and even travelling (which from 1649 till 1670 was never off my horsback) did gleane som observations, of which I have a collection in folio of 2 quiers of paper + a dust basket, some wherof are to be valued'
John Aubrey, Brief Lives (1693)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Moose | Jenny Colon

Lunchtime. Again, blogger denies me as I endeavour to share a photograph with my dear readers. It was to be a moose. Another time, another time. Until then, maybe this will keep us going.

This deserves a separate entry, really, but what the hay. I discovered this morning that Gerard de Nerval's Adrienne - you remember, the one of whom his hopes proved false, or something like that - is a composite figure. One of the people she's composed of was called Jenny Colon, an actrice from the Varietes. I'm not sure what kind of relationship they had. She died in 1848. I really like her name.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fay Wray and friends

Just idly browsing a list of 'Well Known People Who Happen To Be Canadian', compiled by a particle physicist unknown to me. There are 52 entries, not all referring to a single well-known person (WKP hereafter) - some point to a consortium of some kind, e.g., The Tragically Hip or McGarrigle, Kate and Anna. I note, with slight disappointment, that after a quick count, it seems that I've only heard of 17 Canadian WKPs. It's taken me a moment or two to cotton onto the fact that, in spite of the page's main title, the 52-strong list is exclusivlely the province of musicians. But, no, hold on a tick, a few deft clicks and I'm at the main menu, which gives me 14 different categories of WKP to choose from. Overwhelming! I recognise none of the artists, though I like the sound of Tom Thomson. A wonderful resource for helping you to choose your favourite Canadian, which is never a straightforward business.

Friday, September 01, 2006


OK, so the textual revolution didn't last too long. Not to worry. Text is like, so, totally for losers. The clip below should work - if, like me, you're not a super-super-fast connection, then I advise clicking on play and then immediately on pause & then waiting patiently while the whole clip cues up. Otherwise you can only watch it piecemeal. Non sequitur alert: it has been a stupid morning, waiting for electricians; not entirely understanding them (and vice versa) when they finally show up; standing about like a lemon whilst they unscrew everything and prod their little yellow current-meter - if that's the right word - in sundry sockets. They failed to sort out the problem: more electricians on their way this afternoon. Hurrah. This cheered me up, as did the comparative form of 'awesome', as put to excellent use by my favourite exponent of joke folk.

Some vocabulary I learnt from Jacques:

rossignol = nightingale (apparently it also means 'unsaleable piece of junk', which is weird)

mome (with a wee hat on the 'o') = nice-looking young lassie

sangloter = to sob (does it have anything to do with sang = blood?)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Alternatywy 4

imdb helping me out with my TV watching -

"The beginning of 1980s was a difficult time for Polish people. This series tries to show it. While it is a comedy and some things can be exaggerated, it has the spirit of these times. The action takes place for few months in some building (with the title address "4 Alternative Street") of Warsaw's newly built district. Everyone has his/her own life and fights socialism problems. So, you have a house-master, who believes to be the most important person in the building. He does nothing and make people, whom he should be about to serve, do all the work for him. There is also a minister, who lives in the building with his lover. He says privately different things than he does in TV. Everyone had to wait for one's flat for years (true in Poland), but there is a man, who has lots of flats. There is a man, who was shown in TV that he got a flat, but he had not and no officer wants to help him. There are two families with similar names, who were given the same one flat, so they have to live together, having no understanding in bureaucracy. And so on. Not everything is true, but I say -- the main idea of socialism is shown. The people are treated like animals, with no respect, only the top of the iceberg has lots of privileges. The success of the series was reached because everyone in Poland could identify with the characters of the movie and everyone could say 'it's an absurd, but could also happen to me'.

Was the above comment useful to you?"

Yes, very much so. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Angelus Novus

Last night I spent, oh, let's say, more than 5 minutes trying to post a beautiful photograph of an aubergine on unhemmed. To no avail. The software consistently bailed out at the crucial moment. Shame! Could have been the start of something big. A new departure. I was even going to append a brief comic dialogue on the subject of said vegetable, spoken by two unnamed - but unforgettable - characters.

My new tack this Tuesday lunchtime involved a painting by Paul Klee called 'Angelus Novus'. You can see here the very image I was going to cheekily paste across - it would have looked lovely nestled between this paragraph and the last. Sadly, the same technical problem that first reared its ugly head last night rears yet. This minor hiccup triggered that most uncommon of events: a blog staff meeting. (And some mild confusion of tenses.) So, after a good deal of deliberation and a bit of voting, it is my very great pleasure to announce, that, for a trial period of unspecified length, unhemmed is going textual. So look out.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006


Tuesday, July 18, 2006



"The article illustrated today (did you guess?) is a snow-gauge. There are very few of them in Ireland at present. It is made of copper, and consists of a funnel or catch-pipe for the snow, which widens inwardly, then drops eighteen inches, allowing the snow to fall into a pan beneath. A casing which can be heated with hot water surrounds the gauge and is used to melt the snow. By this arrangement the snow cannot escape; it melts and runs into the buccket beneath, where it is accurately gauged.

So what, you say. I will tell you what. There is one great advantage in having a snow-gauge on your premises. Supposing some moon-faced young man who reads Proust happens to be loitering about your house, blathering out of him about art, life, love, and so on. He is sure to have a few cant French phrases, which he will produce carefully at suitable intervals as one produces coins from a purse. Inevitably the day will come (even if you have to wait for it many years) when he will sigh and murmur:

'Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?'

Here is your chance. This is where you go to town. Seize the nitwit by the scruff of the neck, march him out to the snow gauge, and shout:

'Right in that bucket, you fool!'

I'll bet you'll feel pretty good after that."

(from the 'Research Bureau' of Flann O'Brien, reprinted in The Best of Miles)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

party like it's 1538

Here's Death playing the bagpipes and about to get deathly on some poor old codger. (You can see all of Hans Holbein's Dance of Death here.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

where the Corporal don't live

sortes Virgilianae

Praise be to the OED -

"In phrases sortes Virgilianae, Homericae, Biblicae: divination, or the seeking of guidance, by chance selection of a passage in Virgil, Homer, or the Bible. Also ellipt. and transf.

a1586 SIDNEY Apol. Poet. (1595) sig. B4, Whereupon grew the worde of Sortes Virgilianæ, when by suddaine opening Virgils booke, they lighted vpon any verse of hys making. 1646 T. BROWNE Pseud. Ep. V. xxi. 272 The first an imitation of sortes Homericæ, or Virgilianæ, drawing determinations from verses casually occurring. 1700 J. WELWOOD Memoirs 100 Lord Falkland, to divert the king, would have his Majesty make a trial of his fortune by the Sortes Virgilianæ, which..was an usual kind of augury some ages past. 1740 H. WALPOLE Let. 25 Sept. (1974) XXXVII. 79 In three words I will give you her picture as we drew it in the Sortes VirgilianæInsanam vatem aspicies. I give you my honour, we did not choose it. 1801 M. EDGEWORTH Belinda II. xiii. 25 Several volumes of French plays and novels were lying there, and Clarence Hervey raking up one of them, cried: ‘Come, let us try our fate by the sortes Virgilianæ.’ 1845 G. E. JEWSBURY in A. Ireland Sel. Lett. G. E. Jewsbury to J. Welsh Carlyle (1892) 179, I send it you by way of a ‘sortes’, and the Bible has as much virtuethat wayas Virgil! 1886 D. C. MURRAY Cynic Fortune xv. 183 In the practice of the sortes (which was a favourite occupation of his) [he] was elevated or depressed by the text he fell upon. 1897 A. C. BENSON Diary June in D. Newsome On Edge of Paradise (1980) ii. 63, I took a Sortes Biblicae before refusing. 1947 H. NICOLSON Diary 11 Dec. (1968) 118, I consult sortes Biblicas. My Bible opens at Ezekiel XL 22. 1969 G. GREENE Travels with my Aunt I. xvi. 170 The Sortes Virgilianaea game my mother considered a little blasphemous unless it was played with the Bible. 1975 V. CANNING Kingsford Mark vi. 105 He acknowledged the encouragement of the sortes. All the omens were right."

In The Star Factory, Ciaran Carson advocates the sortes Ashberyae (although without my inelegant cod-Latin). Paul Muldoon I rather suspect of having committed, perhaps even more than once, the sortes OEDae. When in the direst of straits I have considered a sortes Unhemmedae. (Actually, that's not true.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Friday, June 23, 2006

The First Lady of Hollywood


That might be the first greeting ever on unhemmed & if so allow me to apologise for being a little behindhand.

In the second verse of Bob Dylan's wonderfully wordy number "Desolation Row", Cinderella 'puts her hands in her back pockets / Bette Davis style'. If anyone can send me a photo of Bette Davis herself doing this, I would be most grateful.



tempus fugit

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


feel like i'm always looking this word up

It's an illusion, though, isn't it?


"1. trans. To thicken, condense.

[...] fig. 1732 Historia Litteraria III. 249 When the Subject is limpid of it self, he frequently inspissates it, by throwing in a heap of Circumstances not Essential to it. 1884 E. E. HALE Xmas in Narrag. v. 117 No which you can inspissate entertainingness into a dull article.

2. intr. To become thick or dense, to thicken.

[...] 1836 MACGILLIVRAY tr. Humboldt's Trav. xvii. 225 Until the yolk..has time to inspissate."


Last night:

On Donnington Bridge, two milk floats in quick succession, at about 11-30pm. And huge quantities of horsedung.

This afternoon:

A young cyclist executing a perfect arm signal, his left arm fully - almost flamboyantly - horizontal. And right behind him, an older man, donnish in appearance, his bike helmet on bassackwards.

What's going on?

Monday, June 12, 2006


Monday, June 05, 2006


I was reading an essay by Frank Kermode today, called 'Can We Say Absolutely Anything We Like?' It was originally an MLA paper in 1974 but first published in a 1977 book of essays dedicated to Lionel Trilling, who had died 2 years previously (he was 70). Kermode talks about Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), the Hungarian-British physical chemist and philosopher - who reads Polanyi anymore? - and uses the word 'anamorphosis' quite a bit, and the opposition 'proximal' and 'distal'. This is what the OED gives as the primary definition of 'anamorphosis':

"A distorted projection or drawing of anything, so made that when viewed from a particular point, or by reflection from a suitable mirror, it appears regular and properly proportioned; a deformation."

(The other two definitions: one is botanical, the other rare.)

In passing, Kermode calls Roland Barthes 'nomoclastic', by which I think he means, that Barthes messes with the names of things, or even destroys the names of things (by analogy with 'iconoclastic'). The OED has nothing to say about 'nomoclastic' and nor, amazingly, does Google.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

ich bin

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

somewhere near Cumnor

maybe even Cumnor itself

Friday, May 26, 2006


Zen Buddhism. 'A sudden indescribable and uncommunicable inner experience of enlightenment.' (OED)


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Richard Bentley (1662-1742)

"I wrote, before I was twenty-four years old, a sort of hexapla, a thick volume in quarto, in the first column of which I inserted every word of the Hebrew Bible alphabetically; and, in five other columns, all the various interpretations of those words in the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, and Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, that occur in the whole Bible. This I made for my private use, to know the Hebrew, not from the late rabbins, but the ancient versions; when, bating Arabic, Persic, Ethiopic, I read over the whole Polyglot. And I made, too, another volume in quarto, of various lections and emendations of the Hebrew text, drawn out of these ancient versions, which, though done in those green years, would make a second part to the famous Capellus's Critica Sacra."

Monday, May 22, 2006


A clear winner in this month's website-of-the-month competition: Enjoy!

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I'm not his biggest fan, but I feel compelled to tip my hat to Dave Gorman. What to make of this other life of mine?



tarsiers are nocturnal creatures of the Indonesian rainforests - they mainly feed on insects, such as this cicada

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

nautilus (that supremely Joycean object?)

the good life (and no, I'm not being snide)

"Twice a week every week, the retired IT manager, accountant and teacher make their way down Colesbourne Drive, through Campbell Park, along the canal ("Milton Keynes has more waterfront than Venice you know") and into the centre of town for a couple of afternoon pints."
(It was in the paper back in January 2004. I remembered reading the article earlier this evening when someone was telling me about a trip to go dry-slope skiing in MK.)

Monday, May 15, 2006


Has there been a change of mood at unhemmed? Not necessarily a sea-change into something rich and strange, but just a barely perceptible relaxation of some kind? These would seem to be the questions on everybody's lips.

I'm all for a change. I hear it's as good as a rest.

I met a man from Winnipeg today. The place-name insistently reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite get hold of it. A few hours passed and it came to me: the Winnebago.

* * *

- Danke schon!
- Gern geschehen!